By Kenton Brooks
Phoenix Sports Writer
OKMULGEE – Ryan Helsey can play basketball, too.
The 6-foot-1 Sequoyah High School senior is a football standout and a Northeastern State University baseball signee, but he isn’t too shabby on the court either.
He scored 18 points to share team-high scoring honors with B.J.Leach in the 63-49 victory against Henryetta in the Class 3A Area I regional final at Okmulgee High School’s Brock Memorial Gym on Monday night.
The Indians’ win becomes their first regional title in five years.
“This is special tonight,” Sequoyah coach Jay Herrin as his team picked up the regional plaque.
In particular, Helsley was special.
“He’s really found his niche this year by playing inside,” the Indians’ coach said. “Going to the basket is his strength and he’s accepted that role.”
The Indians outscored the Knights 23-12 in the fourth quarter and Helsley said it was important to play close to the basket in that period. He had five points.
“My teammates had faith in me and I was able to get it done for us,” he said.
Helsley made a three-point play with 3:35 left in the game, padding the Indians lead to 46-41. Leach’s two throws with 2:14 remaining padded Sequoyah’s lead to 52-43.
Ranked No. 9 in the final Okrankings.com poll, Sequoyah clung to a 40-37 lead after three quarters before erupting in that final period.
Sequoyah plays the Oklahoma Centennial-Oklahoma Christian winner at 8 p.m. Friday at Sand Springs High School.
Henryetta was No. 7 and dropped to 21-5 with the loss. The Knights are coached by Jerry Ward, the former Warner and Webbers Falls girls coach. His last year at Warner was in 2007.
Chet Caywood led the Knights with 18 points and Blake Johnson added 12. Johnson, though, fouled out with 2:14 left in the game.
Sequoyah 80, Henryetta 41
As they came out of the locker room and walked toward the bench after halftime, Sequoyah coach Larry Shade stopped Audrey Ballou to say something. His comment was brief and to the point.
“I told her it was time to take over,” Shade said.
Ballou did exactly that, scoring 10 points in the third quarter en route to a game-high 24 in leading the Lady Indians to the victory in the Class 3A Area I regional finals.
“We gauge ourselves in a game by the first three minutes of the third quarter,” Shade said. “I’ve watched a lot of basketball and learned a little bit that the third quarter dictates the game. We gave them a basket to start the third quarter, but we came back strong. I’m proud of my team.”
The Lady Indians, ranked No. 11 in the final Okrankings.com Class 3A poll, blitzed the Lady Knights 28-6 in that third period for a 61-31 lead going into the final quarter. Sequoyah held a 33-25 halftime lead.
Ballou, a 5-foot-9 junior, had 14 points in the second half. She said she and the Lady Indians wanted to dominate in the third period.
“We didn’t play very well in the first half,” she said. “But we just drove the ball to the hole in the third quarter, found the open person and made our shots. Coach had told me that I had to play the hardest I’ve ever played for the first three minutes of the third quarter. That’s what I tried to do.”
Ballou was one of four to score in double figures as the Lady Indians improved to 19-7 and advance to Friday’s area round at 6:30 p.m. Sand Springs High School. They will play the winner between Oklahoma Christian and Perkins-Tryon.
Baylee Ratlliff had 15, Courtney Jones scored 12 and Feather Pacheco added 10 for the Lady Indians.
The Lady Knights dropped to 14-12 as MaKayla Blackbear led the way with 11 points. Alissa Taylor and Hanna Gouge had eight each.
Class 3A Area I consolation
The second quarter proved to be the undoing for the Haskell boys’ basketball team.
The Beggs Demons outscored the Haymakers (9-16) 29-18 in the quarter on their way to a 77-67 win, ending Haskell’s season in the Class 3A Area I regional consolation game in Okmulgee on Monday.
Alex Wheeland led Haskell with 22 points, while Dillon Dobbins had 16 and Michael Love added 15.
Chris Baccus led the Demons with 25 points, while Kruz Lynch had 20 and Alex Jones added 11.